How To Ensure You Are Not Setting Your Startup For Failure
Save a lot of time with one quick health check
Two years ago, I started building a start-up with two other friends. We wanted to heal depression and anxiety in the US and potentially across the World. A bold, impactful, and ambitious goal. Let me walk through how I failed to build this company by making one, simple mistake: not burning all the bridges.
Happiness = Expectation — Reality
Over 50% of Startups founded in the US fail after four years. One of my favorite equations is Happiness = Expectation — Reality. When trying to build a start-up, anxiety can be your worst enemy. To strive, you need to learn to love ambiguity, navigate a sea of uncertainty, and still be motivated about your venture. Embracing that you will probably have to tighten your belt for a couple of years and that there is a high chance that your startup will fail — and that’s OK — will help reduce anxiety.
If you want to build a successful start-up, you have to burn all the bridges
While I was trying to build the start-up, I was doing a master’s in the US, had a limited student visa, and also got a chunky student loan at an absurd interest rate which I had no clue how I was going to pay back. The wisest words I ignored were brought by a close friend from the masters who was in the same situation as mine:
My biggest mistake while building a Startup was hedging and recruiting for other companies who would sponsor my visa as well as help me get that financial security to be able to pay my debt and live a comfortable life. Although most of my time and focus were on the StartUp, that 20% of the time I invested in recruiting for other companies ultimately led me to feel demotivated, non-confident on the start-up’s success, and eventually leading me to leave the project altogether.
Make sure your team has burned all the bridges as well
One principle all VCs and successful Startup founders can agree on is that the people in your team can make or break your business. It is essential to be aligned with your team regarding goals and expectations and to ensure that all of the other team members share the same vision and goal, and are ready to leave all other opportunities behind and bleed their hearts out for your venture. In a three-member team such as mine, if one of them starts to hedge, then others might feel insecure as well and start hedging as well, creating a domino effect that will lead to an unsuccessful business.
In my case, while I was shopping around at MBA recruiting events, another founder was pitching IT consulting projects as a freelancer to other companies to get some extra cash. Both of these actions lead to a downward spiral that eventually led to the rupture of the team and the fall business.
Don’t repeat the same mistake I made. Forget about statistics saying that most of the start-ups fail and ignore all of those low-hanging fruit 8–5 jobs for you to grab; if you want to pursue a venture go for it. The things you will learn such as getting rejected a thousand times and still getting up, living under a tight budget, building a team, and going from an idea to a product will change the way you look at life and are priceless. I learned a lot from my failure and someday I will deep dive and give entrepreneurship a second shot. When that time comes, I will undoubtedly burn all the bridges.